Manufacturing Thor: Perfect Frets Without Leveling

No more fret leveling and crowning with Thor Mark II! Intrigued? Keep reading…

The key is precision…

For those who have just tuned in, Thor is a carbon fiber-wood composite guitar with advanced electronics and infinite multichannel sustain.

We start with a perfectly machined compound-radius fretboard. I posted about that process here: Manufacturing Thor: Part 6. There is no guess work and manual sanding involved. We use our own jig for precise compound radius shaping of the fretboard. The jig saves time and ensures consistent results without the need for tedious sanding with a sanding block.

The laser-cut stainless-steel nut follows. I posted about that here: Manufacturing Thor: Part 4. The post explains the rationale of using stainless steel instead of plastic or bone. Essentially, the stainless-steel nut matches the sonic and mechanical properties of Thor’s stainless-steel frets. But there’s another crucial factor not mentioned: precision! With the precision cut stainless-steel nut, there’s no guess work. No manual shaping and filing.

And then the frets. For Thor, we utilize Jescar stainless-steel jumbo fret wires. These, in my opinion, are the best available. The stainless-steel used is extremely hard and would last a lifetime, and the consistency is excellent. Consistency is essential. Poorly manufactured frets with inconsistent dimensions will defeat our objective. I can understand why fret leveling was necessary in the early days  before modern manufacturing techniques were developed, and I suppose this tradition simply persisted.

The frets are pre-rediused using a fret wire radius tool, and cut to length. The frets are then gently pressed down using a fret press caul with a variety of inserts for different fretboard radii. After seating all the frets, there may still be a few high spots here and there. The frets are checked with a fret rocker to see if they are all level, and any that are found to be slightly higher are re-pressed. Simply make another pass through the fret press. There should be no need for filing.

The end result is frets that are flawless and a pleasure to play.

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1 year ago

Super cool, as usual…Zero fretboard sanding after the compound radius is cut? What tool are you using in the router to achieve this?

1 year ago
Reply to  Joel de Guzman

Looks like a square end tool in the video? I’m assuming your jig acts like a 4 axis CNC, where the spindle would rotate to match the radius?

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